Roman goddess of beauty

I was in Rome last weekend (I'm not gloating, honest) and was surrounded by so much history that it was difficult to take it all in. Around every corner seems to be some Roman ruin or other and I'm told that it is very difficult to build anything in Rome because you have to do an archaeological excavation first.

Where is the astronomy in this? Well the Romans believed in many different gods and they assigned the names of important gods and goddesses to the planets that were then known i.e. those that can be seen without the aid of a telescope. I am pretty terrible at remembering the names of Greek and Roman gods but one name I can remember is the Roman goddess of love and beauty, or Venus. The planet Venus is pretty beautiful to observe from Earth as it is often very bright in the evening or early morning. With the aid of a small telescope you can also see that Venus has phases just like our Moon. In fact this was the evidence that Galileo used to show that Venus must be orbiting the Sun rather than the Earth and helped show that the Copernican system worked better than the Ptolemaic system.

Whilst sat near the Colosseum (Colosseo) on Sunday evening, I spotted this ancient Roman goddess gracing the western sky. As I mentioned recently, I didn't have my camera with me but I was able to briefly borrow one from a friend and attempt a picture of the scene. The camera was a pretty basic digital camera without the ability to control the exposure length so, given that, I'm pretty happy with the results. One thing I've since realised is that just up the road to the right on this image is the Forum of Caesar where there are the remains of a temple to Venus Genetrix. So, all in all, a pretty good place to get a picture of Venus from. I got a picture of Jupiter from Venice

last year, so perhaps I should try to take a series with the planets

photographed from suitable locations. I wonder where I could try next.

Venus and Colosseum
The planet Venus seen next to the Colosseo (Colosseum) in Roma (Rome) on Sunday 4th March. CREDIT: Stuart

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 06th Mar 2007 (15:10 CET) | Permalink
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